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in tackling salinity. On Landline - a breakthrough of salt here now at all. There's absolutely no sign deep drainage program But Western Australia's side effects. can have some disturbing Basically it's just killed the lot. 10 acres of bush that's died. We've probably got, oh, And crocs in hot water. Come on.

At about 43 degrees, every night time. keeping all my babies warm a north Queensland crocodile farm. How discharge from a sugar mill saved I think it's fantastic. Hello, and welcome to Landline. I'm Pip Courtney, in northern New South Wales. coming to from you sugar cane country

In this time of drought,

would have to worry about is a flood. you'd think the last thing farmers In Western Australia, however, silent flood - wheat farmers face the so-called

about 20,000 hectares a year rising saltwaters that affect grain-growing region. of the country's most lucrative a possible solution to salinity, There's now a new push to expand known as deep drainage. with the results. But not all farmers are happy of Western Australia, At Morowa in the northern wheat belt for another tough year. Rod Madden is steeling himself

It's about as bad as you can get it. we've had maybe 3 inches of rain. I think since the 1st of June That's pretty tough. have been pretty lean, In fact, five of the last 7 years that the seasons turn around but, yeah, let's hope we'll have some good ones. and in the future

to make it rain, Rod Madden can't do anything he has found the answer but he reckons on his 5,500-hectare farm. to turning back the tide of salinity has been like a cancer Since the 1960s, rising salt productive cropping land taking out what was once his most on the valley floors.

it had consumed almost 20% And, until recently, in 1922. of the land originally cleared Two years ago, drainage channel through his farm Rod Madden dug an 8km-long deep Government study as part of a West Australian into engineering solutions. have been stunning. The results, he says, at surface level Lowering a water table almost to 2m below ground, into productive country and turning salt scolds for the first time in decades. This was sown in early July. about 2.5 inches of rain. And since July, we've probably had when we seeded it, There was a bit of soil moisture of inches is spectacular. but to have this result on a couple grown a crop since 1969. Bearing in mind that this hasn't

It was too salt. of salt here now at all. There's absolutely no sign At nearby Wubin, has been more than monetary. the impact of deep drainage to grow a modest garden Janette Macpherson is finally able the water table, after drainage lowered of her home which was undermining the foundations and her emotional well-being. and a little bit of garden going. We've started to get some trees

that's a definite. I think that the house is saved, But it is still fretting. a front verandah - I mean, we do not have and everything's all gone. all the cement

but it's taken a pretty big toll. It's taken a long time

1 million hectares of country Salinity has consumed more than grain-growing region, in the nation's most productive water-logged or salt-affected. with another 1 million hectares dry-land salinity WA now has 70% of the nation's lost yields. and its effect goes well beyond is already saline, Half of the west's divertable water brakish or of marginal quality,

species have been lost forever. and hundreds of rare plant and animal of salt-affected country The forecasts for the growth are depressingly bleak. On current estimates of the wheat belt about 4.5 million hectares by the year 2050. will be affected by salinity about 20,000 hectares a year. That's a growth rate of To put that into perspective, 50 football fields every day. it's about 50 hectares or radically since the 1970s, With rainfall patterns changing and his team hydro-geologist Richard George across the wheat belt are drilling sites with a more accurate way to try to come up of mapping the growth of salinity.

has introduced itself, Because climate variability across the wheat belt, because the country's so variable monitoring networks in place we need enough salinity's growth to be able to track see it coming 10, 20 years in front. and to give farmers the ability to Department of Agriculture and Food But critics argue the State's of dollars over decades has wasted tens of millions against salinity. fighting a losing battle

bureaucracy over here We've had a State as a member of Parliament, that has gone in my life, from the State budget from getting 10 million a year

the problem and it's doubled. to 40 million a year to fix Chris and I will unveil the plaque. I now declare it officially open and APPLAUSE

Wilson Tuckey has loomed large Not quite vintage, but for 27 years, biggest grain-growing electorate. over Australia's The member for O'Connor says the nation's $3 billion grain return. WA produces half to two-thirds of a fast-changing world grain-trade But it's potential to be part of a slow-moving bureaucracy. is threatened by

From an export perspective, doesn't have a crop, if Western Australia Australia doesn't export wheat.

And in this new market environment biofuels and things of that nature, where so much grain is going to more and more significant. it's going to become

is THE solution Wilson Tuckey says deep drainage

for most of WA's salinity problem. in Parliament 27 years, Well, I've been very significant before I arrived. and the problem was The proof that drainage works - Department over here and, I mean, the Agriculture its effectiveness fought bitterly against until they could do so no more. Are we losing? Possibly. Almost certainly. Is our rate of loss being contained?

WA's Minister for Agriculture and Food is Kim Chance, a former wheat-belt farmer who has a keen interest in deep drainage. But he says it's just one tool in a fight to contain salinity along with other engineering solutions such as surface-water management, groundwater pumping,

and planting deep-rooted vegetation. One of the difficulties in demonstrating that what we're doing is working is that this has been a problem which has taken 100 years to develop and manifest itself

and it's gonna take quite a while to halt and reverse that process. Farmers across the wheat belt are now investing millions of dollars in the deep-drainage option.

There are now 11,500km of channels draining thousands of tonnes of water from the landscape. But, as first reported on Landline five years ago, sometimes where the effluent goes causes more problems than it solves. At Narrambeen in the eastern wheat belt, 130km of drains were dug through 20 farms, but their toxic effluent full of acid, salt and dissolved metals

ended up on Allen Yandle's farm.

If you look out here behind us, this stuff is relatively young regrowth that since the drainage water started to come through basically has just killed the lot. A neighbouring conservation reserve was also badly damaged by a scheme which failed to plan for safe and effective disposal. Since then, the State Government has pledged more than $4 million

for an engineering evaluation initiative to examine how best to use deep-drainage and other options. What we think is there potentially will be a lot more drainage, and the risks will become more when there's cumulative drainage - when there's lots of drains that are combined together, and perhaps the impact can be a lot larger. So what we are looking at is helping farmers have better ideas and better ways to tackle drainage.

We're also looking at the cumulative impact at a catchment and a river basin level, and what the change will be. If we do nothing, there will be an impact of potentially increased flooding and increased salinity. Drainage is one of those management options which might improve the situation in some areas and make it worse in others, and what we've got to look at is how we manage that overall catchment response. University of Western Australia biodiversity scientist Barbara Cook

heads the downstream impact study, which is looking at the effects of drainage on salt and freshwater environments.

We find there is a drop in species richness, which is to be expected,

and we also find a change in composition - in other words, certain animals like little microcrustaceans, for example,

these are these little water flees and little ostracods, clam shrimps, and so on - they don't like the acidic water that you get out of the drain, so we find that they might be plentiful at sites upstream of where the drain water comes in, but when you look at sites downstream of where the water comes in they disappear. In your opinion, can those downstream impacts be managed? Yes, I think they could. I think there are a couple of things we could look at. One of them would be treatment and in this case the treatment would be looking at the treatment of the acidity probably more than the salinity. The reason being that some of the water from the drains can be incredibly acid, pretty similar to the acidity that we find in, say, vinegar. So, we could probably look at treating that. The other thing would be to plan very carefully

where we actually put that effluent from the drains. So, which water ways and which wetlands, possibly looking at wetlands that are internally draining, so we know they won't eventually drain into major river systems that go through some of our bigger metropolitan areas. So, yes, I think we could manage it with careful planning.

At Beacon, in the northern wheat belt, Harold 'Flash' Beagley is at the end of a 22km-long drainage system through six farms. It drains into 17.5 hectares of evaporation ponds, built as part of the evaluation initiative. In just two years they've drained 1 billion litres of effluent. How concerned were you when the scheme was first put together about the acidic nature of the water and it ending up on your farm? Oh, it's always a problem but what are you gonna do? Watch your farm fall to bits virtually. 'Cause that's what was gonna happen. It was slowly getting worse and worse. This 17 hectares here, that was nearly all uncropable

by the time we decided to do this. With marginal average rainfall, Mr Beagley would like to build a small desalination plant to use the drainage discharge to water his 1,300 hectares of cropping and grazing land. But the acid and heavy metals in the water make this impossible.

About as acid as vinegar is - around a pH of 3.2, and it's got some things, a few other sort of things like lead and copper and zinc, a bit of uranium, and aluminium and iron are the major sort of things that come through it. These are mostly been leached out of these soils as the water's moved out of the drain and pumped into this basin.

A solution may lie in this ingenious low-tech, low-cost trial developed by Department of Water chemist Brad Degens. He is using straw and sheep manure

in a gravity-filled moat below the evaporation ponds to neutralise the acid and heavy metals. Basically, it's a set-up-and-leave sort of system, a passive treatment type thing, where it doesn't need pumps and uses gravity to feed in water through it.

How effective is it, then? Very effective. We have water going into one end of this that's about pH of 3.2, at the other end it comes out at about 6, which is near enough to drinking water sort of pH. Still salty, but it's dealing with the acid and it strips out all those metals on the way. How important is it that you come up with low-tech solutions that involve cheap materials that are easy for farmers to get their hands on?

It's very important. Some of the - we're always up against that cost margin about how expensive it is to treat the water. At the moment we're still dealing with disposable costs for water - so the cheapest possible way in treating these waters is what we're aiming for - also looking at the simplest and easiest way of doing it, things that will work beyond just a few years and work out for 4 to 5, maybe even 10 years type of thing. The Beacon scheme is also providing answers

on how to successfully manage drainage through a catchment system. Farmers such as Ty Kirby shared some of the cost of the scheme, as well as a common vision of restoring their salt-affected land. Without the drain going in we sort of might have stood to lose sort of up to 30, 35% of the farm and that's, you know, reasonable hectares -

we're talking probably 1,000 hectares-plus in that sort of number. And what about with the ongoing maintenance issues, cost, and who will pay, do you think that consensus will continue? I certainly hope so. Yeah, I think it will. The guys who are involved now are starting to see some small effects, or some small results. I think we're in it for the long run.

The evaluation initiative is also examining options to speed up the recovery of soils after drains are put in with inputs such as gypsums and deep-ripping. Yeah. Even though it's clay-based. You happy with that, or...?

Murdoch University's Professor Richard Bell is looking at this farm owned by David Williams at Dumbleyoung, as well as others across the wheat belt, where soil sodisity, texture and acid content are all varied. This soil here is a grey clay and it's the one that we thought was probably most difficult to leach salts out of.

Other sites are more loamy and if you're on a sandy site I think it will be faster to remove salt from those. Um, as far as the other soil treatment such as gypsum or ripping,

actually, in the trials we've done so far we're not seeing any evidence that that's speeding up the process of recovery over a period of 2, 3, 4 years, so that's still an open question.

What is known is that deep drainage can be even more effective in an integrated system using trees and other deep-rooted vegetation to slow the flow of groundwater from high country. At Kalannie in the central wheat belt, Ian Stanley has planted 1 million oil mallees on his farm, as well as digging 15km of drains. There's a lot of hydrology studies which have been done

to determine the number of trees you'd have to have in your landscape to completely solve the problem. if you put that many trees into the landscape I think you wouldn't have a farming industry anymore, at least not a viable one, so we have to integrate trees into our farming practices in a way which maintains our viability as agricultural producers, and in that regard, we are still going to have water further down the landscape which will require drains to take it away. ENGINE REVS Ian Stanley was named the 2006 Landcare farmer of the year for his efforts in restoring his farm and developing the fledgling oil mallee industry. The industry now has been harvesting its oil-rich renewable bio-mass

for three years, but its true potential may be in carbon sequestration. I think with the advent of carbon trading and the potential for the tree to sequest carbon -

it's been aid so me that the oil mallee is God's sequester. It's a very, very efficient sequester of carbon, so, I think those two things combined could make it quite profitable. Why is it such a good carbon sequester? Well, it grows vigorously on low rainfall,

low rainfall areas where you'd be able to afford to plant these trees, and it also has the abilities to store a lot of carbon below the ground in what everyone refers to as the mallee root - that's pretty much all carbon - and the tree continues to sequest that under pretty much all climates.

At the moment, drainage like this at a depth of 2.5m with surface control on both sides costs about $12,000 a kilometre. It's a substantial investment and one that still carries risks. Under the current system, farmers who want to install drains have to apply to the State Commissioner for Land and Soil Conservation. But even if their so-called notice of intent gets the go ahead, it's no guarantee their investment is secure. At Kulin in the eastern wheat belt, these three farmers and another neighbour have been ordered to block their drains. We're not allowed to drain 'em, well, the only other option we've got is probably fill them in. There's nothing much more we can do about it, otherwise there'll be a great loss of sheep in there, unfortunately. It's not much use having drains if you can't bloody use 'em. It just don't work. No, no. The men spent $150,000 constructing their drains three years ago after their application was processed, but they were ordered to block them a year later, when their downstream neighbours complained. Everybody knew we were putting drains in. You know, it wasn't the thing that was kept secret. We had - we were told that we had to get permission

from two neighbours downstream. We went down the right channels. We did exactly what we were told to do. Probably worse still I feel as though the salinity issue is still gonna keep marching on the way it has been. So who do blame? I blame the Department, very much so,

because they have...have not put any protocols in place to protect us. We've done the right thing - gone through and got the approvals - and then been slapped with a notice and said, "Right, now you've got to hold the baby, "you gotta hold the water." Downstream, Shane Tyson used to rely on fresh water from the creek

to fill an 8,000 cubic-metre dam to water his livestock. But since the drains went in the creek has become too salty to harvest after heavy flushing rains. We'll have to set up a new infrastructure of how water the sheep as in troughs or and a new scheme. Blood may be thicker than water,

but at Kulin the salt water is causing bad blood between families.

Being such a tight-knit community, which Kulin is, it's caused quite a bit of friction between a lot of families that have been lifelong friends, so, um... Yeah, I think it's done a lot of damage. Shane Tyson's neighbour, Michael Wilson has also lost any chance to use the creek for watering his sheep.

Can you put in dollar terms, what you think this might have cost you? That's very hard to pin down. We are in a region that was affected by salt, so in terms of how much the drains have contributed to that salt, that would just be a very difficult thing to pin down. There's the more direct costs of not being able to graze sheep on paddocks when you would like to be grazing sheep on paddocks. According to Adrian and Trish Tyson, whose property is in the middle of the drains, they've almost certainly caused long-term damage to their farm, because it's permanently altered the area's natural hydrology.

I believe it's filling up the water table so, you know, if eventually we're gonna get salt here, it's just pushed everything forward by 15 or 20 years. And up the hill, 200m, we've probably got, oh, 10 acres of bush that's died and we're probably gonna lose a dam unless they block it off so we can sort out the problem as a whole of catchment. Faced with a failed investment

and a growing hazard to stock and their land, the drainage farmers spent $60,000 in legal fees trying unsuccessfully to overturn the order to block their drains. While the State's administrative appeals tribunal found that the system had failed to protect downstream neighbours it also said it hoped there would be a review as it had caused angst to many good and decent people

at both ends of the catchment. The irony is, up and down my electorate they're saying "We learnt one lesson from Kulin - don't ask, don't ask don't do the right thing." But the reality is there that these people got approvals, they didn't think they did the right thing, they got approvals. Well, the Government would say it's actually not an approval system. It's a green light but it's not an approval.

Well, as I say, fancy politicians passing laws like that. I mean, if you were a terrorist you'd get a better deal. Can farmers across the wheat belt have any faith in the notice of intent process? Yeah, of course they can. The notice of intent process has now been in place around a decade. We've dealt with probably 1,000 or more notice it's of intent to drain.

Now, certainly there are problems for Kulin, and I feel desperately sorry for the Kulin community and the individuals who are caught up by what's happened there, but the Kulin example is one of only two such incidents out of around 1,000 notices of intent to drain. It's a process which, if you were to seek to change the process, you would need to go to a full environmental impact report process,

which would tie everything up in red tape for years. There would be no drainage happening. The Agriculture and Food Department is now assessing the Kulin drains and is hoping to design an all-of-catchment solution. What we're trying to do out there at the moment is retrospectively put a catchment water plan together

with those farmers, both upstream and downstream, so we can put drainage, surface-water management, and all the other ambitions that they might have to manage salinity in a package, and then plan for where that water and where that salt should end up. Despite being blocked, one of the drains continues to leak. It's effluent is claimed to be twice the salt of sea water. We did try and block 'em off, we have blocked most of 'em off, it's just that there is one that is leaking

and the only way you can solve that problem is to pull the plug, let it all go and get in there and try it again. So, do you regret the sort of personal tensions and animosity that this whole issue has cause in town? Yes, I am quite concerned about it. There is a lot of animosity. A lot of it's families and that's probably half the reason why all this has happened.

Do you have any sympathy for them at all - that they could do their $150,000 investment? No, none whatsoever. Because if... If they got us into the catchment group to start off with and it was a whole line worked out, you know, it's quite possibly they wouldn't have lost their $150,000. I got no sympathy for 'em at all. They didn't obviously have sympathy for us,

so I've got no sympathy at all.

So, you say you did talk to the downstream neighbours, but was it a mistake to put the drains in without having them on board, without having their permission in the first place? Um, morally it probably is. Morally we probably should've pushed it a lot harder than what we did, but, ah, we went through the right and correct channels of the process that we should've done that was required by the Ag Department and the Water Department. We felt they were independent body, independent to us and the people downstream that would come up with a more balanced argument for the good of the community, if you like, good of the community of the catchment. We felt as though we were probably, ah, starting off something that probably would be taken on board and continued on.

Um, you know, over time people would see the results. But looking back now, yes, we probably shoulda tried a lot harder to get people on board. Do you reckon here? One of the things the engineering evaluation initiative is looking at is a possible trunk drainage system that can be applied twig and branch to whole catchment areas, where effluent is emptied into natural internal draining water ways, such as salt lakes.

OK, that's a pH of 3.1. And a salinity of 35,000. Pretty close to sea water, eh? Yep. What we're really looking at is how you can manage it

at the larger catchment scale and really setting criteria for how farmers or catchment groups

can discharge their water, so setting limits like a salinity limit or a pH limit, and saying, "As long as you meet these water quality criteria "you can discharge your water into that water way or wetland." So we are working on that at a catchment scale and looking at what are the best ways to manage drainage at a larger scale as well. In the northern wheat belt, more than 80 farmers have created their own legal framework for drainage in a catchment covering six shires over 5 million hectares and using a 300km chain of lakes for drainage disposal. The Yarra Yarra Catchment Management group employs its own staff and collects rates from participating farmers. It generates income through subcontracting, and has recently begun a forestry program on drainage easements. Basically we wanted something next to the drains, because obviously the farmers can't use that land for anything because we need that bit of easement to be able to get in and do some maintenance on the drains. So, basically we wanted to have something there that's gonna look good and give us a bit of economic return. We've planted 100,000 broom bush seedlings, or Melaleuca seedlings,

and hopefully they'll be ready to harvest in about 5 years, 5-7 years, and then once they're harvested they get bundled up and used for brushwood fencing. The Yarra Yarra group has received $2 million under the national action plan for salinity and water quality for its research effort. It wants another $6 million to finish a 350km network of drains.

But its goal is to become self-funding. It's gonna settle on about 36... I believe there will always be some Government funning available, but we don't want to be in a position where we have to go cap in hand to get it

or the whole thing falls in a heap because we don't have any reserves. Back at Morowa, Rod Madden now has plenty of water, just no finishing rains. But even without them, his deep drainage has brought a renewed sense of optimism for farming on the fringes. I'm probably gonna gain 2,500 acres, it's pretty chief acres. I love this country, and eventually the seasons will turn around. I think agriculture is just on the cusp of a boom.

They're not making any more land and they're making a lot more people

and they're eating more and more and I think agriculture's got a good future into the next decade or two. Coming up, our story on an unusual relationship

between a crocodile farm and a sugar mill. But first, as we reported earlier this month, the debate over genetically modified crops is heating up. Last week a Federal Government agency warned of the dangers of not embracing this new technology. That story heads this week's news summary. The Agriculture and Resource Economics Bureau told a conference in Adelaide that GM drought-resistant crops

needed to be part of the solution to Australia's long dry.

We should not underestimate the importance of GM technology in trying to help farmers to adapt to climate change. All the States, except Queensland, have refused to allow genetically modified crops and the conference's organisers say Australia is being left behind.

There is no evidence whatsoever that it's increased marketability or anything related to our crops. So its impact has been, as far as I can see, entirely negative. Nonetheless, a Japanese delegation representing a major consumer group has been travelling around Australia to lobby against the growing of GM crops. According to the government survey more than 70% of Japanese consumer feel uncertain about the safety of GMOs. The Federal Government has announced a $100 million extension of the horse flu assistance package. The grants cover businesses and workers affected by the outbreak. Overall, it will be for 6 months support, $235 million for the commercial horse industries. The aid was due to run out a week before the Federal election.

It's now being offered for another 12 weeks. Thoroughbred racing is set to resume at Sydney's Randwick Racecourse in December. It will be the first Sydney meeting held in front of racegoers since the outbreak of horse flu in late August. For all of the people involved in equine industries generally, we're now, I think, turned the corner and we're really very much on the road to recovery.

Australia's largest pig producer says it's being forced to slash up to 80% of its operations in Victoria because of drought and a flood of cheap pig imports. Workers at QAF meats have stopped impregnating sows because it no longer makes financial sense to continue breeding. Estimated losses of $50 a pig at the moment. That's a very unsustainable position

for every pig farmer in this country at the moment. At least 100 jobs will be axed from QAF's Victorian piggeries over the next 12 months. And, finally, Landline's story on aged-care services in South Australia's Port Broughton was recognised in the UN Association Media Peace Awards. The report by Sally Sara, John Bush and Andrew Birch won the category for the positive promotion of older people.

It's the little things that count and if you feel a bit weepy, it's those arms around you that make all the difference.

'Vintage Port', which was broadcast in December last year, told the story of how aged-care services were helping drive the local economy.

Crocodiles are being hatched and grown in parts of northern Australia in what is a relatively new industry. It hasn't been easy-going for a Cairns crocodile farmer, who was having trouble keeping his reptiles warm.

He turned to a more traditional north Queensland industry to lend him a hand.

Water is the life blood of agriculture. And the Mulgrave sugar mill south of Cairns uses millions of litres of water, 24 hours a day throughout the entire crushing season. We use about 100 megalitres of water. That water is pumped through the boilers to make steam and used in the other parts of the factory. After we've finished with that water, we cool it,

and then it gets released back into the river. The mill's chief executive Ray McDowall says the sugar cane itself produces an additional 10 megalitres of water a day. The mill also generates its own electricity

and the excess is sold back to the grid. But up until recently, the mill didn't have a buyer for its hot water. Usually most users want cold water. It's quite unique that somebody wants hot water, but we've looked at in the past of using cooling water

to spray the golf course and other uses, but none of those things ever came to fruition, so we've concentrated with our environmental issues, with cooling the water and putting the water back into the river. As the saying goes - there's someone for everyone. Although, Ray McDowall would never have guessed who the one customer for hot water would be. 9km along the cane rail lines is Australian Crocodile Traders,

the largest saltwater crocodile farm in the world. It produces the giant reptiles for meat and Chinese medicine. But the holy grail of the industry is crocodile skin,

which is mostly sold to the French fashion company Hermes for expensive handbags. This is what it's all about. This is the pretty part that takes pride of place on the fronts of handbags carried by all the movie stars and all of the hoi polloi of this world. There's 23 species of crocodile in the world and the most valuable happens to luckily be

the one that we have in Australia - the saltwater crocodile. But Keith Cook had a problem - he needed to be based near Cairns for easy access to the international airport and export markets. However, the Cairns region isn't usually hot enough for crocodiles. They need to be at about 38 degrees in order to grow. Then one day, Keith Cook stumbled across a bizarre but potentially brilliant idea. One day, I was actually flying over the croc farm here

and I was thinking about what a miserable location it was to build a crocodile farm and I saw the steam coming out of the sugar mill and I thought, well maybe where there's steam there's heat, so I'd ring them up and see if they had any, ah, any heat

that I could somehow get down here. Ray McDowall agreed to sell Keith Cook hot water, but he wasn't convinced it could be done. Running a pipeline from the mill through so many properties

to the crocodile farm required a complex series of permits and agreements. But Keith Cook was back in two weeks with the go-ahead. We thought it would be very difficult for him to do it, and we weren't too sure about his credentials, but he quickly showed us if you're willing to put your head down and get into it, you can achieve what you want to. Cutting through the red tape was just the beginning. There was no certainty the water would be hot by the time it got to the farm. We rang a couple of engineers and they all said, "We've never heard of such a request before," so we continued to ring until we got hold of a couple of guys who has said, "For $100,000 or so we'll give you an answer." I said, "Well, what can you do for a couple of hundred dollars?" What happened, when that first flow came through? Yeah, when it first came through it was cold and it was, yeah... I wasn't feeling very good about things at all. So I slept on my swag out by the end of the pipeline. After the second day of running at a cold temperature I woke up at around 11 o'clock at night to smell a faint hint of molasses and stuck my hand in it and, yes, it was hot, so I danced a little jig and went for a skinny dip in the middle of the night and away we went! Connected it up, and everything since then Yeah, this is where it comes out of the ground.

and all sorts of things, and it comes out here and taps up and manifolds out to the rest of the crocodile farm.

So through this pipes's gushing about 2 megalitres of water a day

at about 43 degrees, which is our life blood, yes.

keeping all these, all my babies warm every night time. I love sitting back and night and safe in the knowledge that they're nice and tucked into bed in their nice warm water. It's turned our least productive period, where we had 4 months where the animals didn't grow at all into our most productive period where the animals grow the fastest.

Almost more than the significance of the increase in productivity, it was more the fact that it gave us the confidence

to expand and to consolidate and to continue to, um, stick with the development of the industry. Crocodile farms has been a school of hard knocks, and Keith Cook says he's learned a lot about overcoming obstacles.

It is more complicated than just about any other agricultural industry, I believe, in Australia. No other industry has the lack of economies of scale and endangered species, a cold-blooded animal. We're having to run an export abattoir, we're having to deal with foreign currency risks and fashion changes in the fashion market.

Um, have to be an engineer, a vet, a government specialist. We have filing cabinets full of licences, coming out our ears,

they seem to investment a new licence every day. It's an extremely hard industry. So, really, it's innovation and creativity and thinking outside the square? Yes. I think it's innovation on steroids, basically.

The hot water arrangement has meant there are winners all round. The crocodile farm no longer has to extract millions of litres of bore water and it's cut its energy use as well. Mullgrave Mill is profiting from selling 2% of its water to the farm and the local abattoir now sells 30% more feed to Keith Cook

for his growing crocodiles.

Overall, the deal's been great for neighbourly relations. Oh, I think it's fantastic. It's been great. And our staff, the feedback I get from that's all positive. They love working with him. They think he's really good at what he does and they enjoy his company. They were a little bit unsure of what was going on,

but I think they're pretty happy with it now. I think the system works for them and it saves - it's good for the environment and it's good for the development of a new industry in the area. So it's been successful all round.

One of the highlights of an agricultural show is checking out the mouth-watering offerings on display in the baking competition, and there's usually a cafe nearby run as a fundraiser for the Country Women's Association, but CWAs around Australia are worried the art of baking may be dying out. So the South Australian CWA has decided to do something about it,

releasing its own fundraising scone mix. We do so many good things in the community that I think it's something that has to endure. Mary Shattock is in her early 70s. She's a farmer from the mid-north of South Australia who was widowed earlier this year. Every year she and her fellow volunteer bakers and helpers stay at the CWA's club on the edge of the city

and then go to the showgrounds to work. It's the biggest fund raising event in the CWA calendar and gives them money to create baby parcels like these for needy new mums. We have our members and friends of the Association who knit the jackets and the bootsies and make the bibs,

and all we have to do is buy the singlets and the jumpsuits then they're all packaged up, boxes covered in pretty paper, with a little card on the top about our Association. I think most of us are mothers ourselves and I think if we were in the situation that some of these mothers are in - they're not all young ones - it'd just be nice to know that somebody cared. SONG: # Let's cook... # Last year the CWA's country cafe at the show raised a record $30,000.

Scones are the biggest thing we make up there. And they're baked every day fresh upstairs and then we sell them downstairs and they're very popular. So popular in fact, the volunteers from the CWA sell around 1,000 a day

and this year they used the Adelaide Show to launch their scone mix on supermarket shelves across the country so people can bake their own CWA-style scones at home. The CWA will get $0.40 a packet.

It's a canny idea to boost their charitable coffers at a time when their membership is static and yet the demand on their emergency relief fund

is greater than ever. Probably some of our members are getting older and catering used to be one of the ways that we raised many hundreds of thousands of dollars

to help people in South Australia and further afield, but this is a different way - we don't have to actually do the cooking by selling the scones, and I guess we have to move with the times too, do things differently. SONG: # Let's cook, let's eat... # But in a CWA's country cafe kitchen things are certainly done the traditional way. The pumpkins are waiting to be made into soup, there are giant jars of home-made jam ready for the scones and Lorraine Greenfield, a regular prize winner at her local show, has been hard at work at a mixing bowl cooking up a storm since just after sunrise. Now, Lorraine, what are you making here today? Today, Ian, we're making a banana cake, and this will go out this afternoon downstairs.

And all the cakes are made here, the ones you sell?

Yes, daily, we make fresh cakes and slices. What have you made so far today? Well, today we have jelly slice, raspberry crumbles, some little jelly cakes, lemon slice, savouried scones, fruit cakes, orange cake, and, of course our scones, plain scones. The motto on the wall says it all -

'A woman should look like a girl, act like a lady, 'think like a man and work like a dog.' And downstairs the CWA sandwich makers are working like dogs. They'll make 7,000 sandwiches before the show's over. Raeleen Besnard has been volunteering at the cafe every year for the past 12 years so she should be due for long service leave. I am, but the only part about it, there's no money at the end of the long service leave. Do you think the CWA will be around in 50 years' time? No, I won't be here anyway. I don't know about anybody else. CWAs around Australia are now worried that the grand tradition of baking is dying out. So if you want to have a taste of a true slice of Australian culture, get along to your local show and have a feed of CWA food before it becomes history.

The hot question in beef circles is who will buy the Futuris Corporation's 43% holding in AAco? Directors of Futuris could hardly have picked a worse time to sell.

Drought, grain prices through the roof, increased costs everywhere, cattle prices on the skids, and, the experts tells, buy the Futuris holding and you will almost certainly end up as Australia's latest cattle king. It's big news, Kerry. And I suppose at this time of the year in the conditions - probably conditions are a bit harder. Well, if you go on the stock exchange, of course,

there's 304 million values about at about 700 million to buy the lot. If anybody comes in and blows the $304 million worth, of course, they are then in a position where they have to make a takeover bid for the lot. And that would be around $700 million. Favourites to buy would have to be Macquarie Bank, but there's also a quiet tip around for the family-owned processing company Teys Brothers. We shall see. Prices - and it was another tough few days, although there is a feeling that the market may have bottomed.

As usual rain will be the biggest influence in future weeks.

Live exports are steady, with all the chatter about the massive live trade this year from South America to the Middle East. As many as 700,000 head this year, that's putting pressure on shipping to our northern buyers. The dairy market remains strong.

Grains now - and the fizz left the room and the bears have moved in with some exceptions.

To wool - we saw a market correction as the Aussie dollar firmed and with the huge offering, China spent much time watching rather than buying.

That's the price check for the week ending Sunday October 28th.

It's been so dry across most of Australia this past year

that the Driza-Bone company last week reported it had to put people off because not enough people had been. buying their rain coats Mind you, last week was fairly damp. There were good falls across southern Queensland.

And the rain spread south to include much of NSW. That's a very handy profile setter for summer crops. There were storms too over the Kimberley.

That's where the rain's been falling over the past week.

That's almost it for the program. For transcripts of today's stories and streaming video, you can visit our website: Next week, we focus on the Federal election,

with Agriculture Minister Peter MacGauren going head-to-head with his Labor opponent Senator Kerry O'Brien. And we look at a remarkable water recycling success story. It's lifted our yield by probably an average of about 30%, and on a year like this year probably could be close to 60%.

Have you become a sort of very vocal ambassador for recycled sewerage? Oh, absolutely. I think there's a lot of water been wasted in the State. When you see a scheme like this and what you can do with it. If we're gonna be able to deal with that scarcity, then we're gonna have to come up with innovative and different solutions than what we've had previously. And if we don't do that, then we're gonna be in trouble. Turning the tide on water recycling - that's one of our stories next week. I'm Pip Courtney. Until then, it's goodbye from Landline. THEME MUSIC Closed Captions by CSI